Making sense of the sedra: Vayera

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Making sense of the sedra: Vayera

The descendants of Abraham will reunite

Rabbi Ariel Abel is based in Liverpool

The damage inflicted on Israeli kibbutzim near the Gaza border
The damage inflicted on Israeli kibbutzim near the Gaza border

Abraham, ancestor of Israel, left his Mesopotamian home of Ur and wandered in search of a new domicile at the age of 75. His wife Sarah was a decade his junior. They had no children of their own. God had promised them a future, but hadn’t said where.

Their feet took them to what is now Israel (Canaan in those times). Abraham and Sarah’s home became the first Chabad House in a country of merchants. Hospitality to all was their practice, guesting the first mitzvah in the future book of the nation of Israel.

In the last fortnight, as Israel, the country and its people, were still reeling from the brutality of the shock of kibbutzim laid waste, families obliterated and orphans taken hostage, the response was not to throw angry energy by blaming someone else for it all. Instead, the people of Israel set up a system of open homes to welcome and host those myriads who had become refugees in their own land. Evacuees from north and south embraced as if they had been known all their lives by people they had never met.

That, we see before our own eyes, is what Jews do with pain. Israel, in heeding the four millennia-old call to share one’s company and open up hospitality to any person, is the embodiment thereby of the blessing granted to Abram: that all the nations of the earth would be blessed through him.

At this time it seems unlikely that the nations of the world are queuing up to seek our blessing. But God has said that this is the case. Inside of all the great sadness of tragic loss of life, Jewish and Arab, Israeli and Palestinian, is the spiritual imperative for Israel, as soon as possible, to clear the path for all the physical and spiritual descendants of Abraham to live in one land in enough harmony to respect the reason why we were intended by God to live there.

In the opening verse of this week’s parsha, Vayera, God reveals himself to Abraham in the plains of Mamre the Emorite. When we invite God and His mandate to seek harmonious living with our neighbours, even a son of a war-making, anti-Israelite nation may choose to become a covenanted friend of Abraham’s family, and all his descendants. At the end of their lives, as retold by the Midrashic tradition, Ishmael, the firstborn of Abraham, reconciled with Isaac at their father’s burial.

The prospect of reconciliation in the Holy Land is a long way off.  Wounds are still laid wide open, mental suffering at an all-time high, trust shattered. Ultimately, however, the family of Abraham is destined to reunite.

May the hostages come home soon, the wounded be healed, the dead find final rest, and all our enemies be enlightened with an awareness to see Israel as the reason for world to be blessed.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: